Jazz Band: JEN Conference

Kelly Zabala, Writer

On Jan. 7th, Downey High School’s jazz bands took flight to New Orleans to perform in the Jazz Education Network’s annual conference, which lasted through Jan. 11th. The Jazz Education Network is a program that dedicates time into building the jazz community by promoting performances through festivals, advancing musical education, and developing new audiences by creating a diverse and inclusive environments.


Although it was not a competitive jazz festival, freshman trombonist in Jazz 2, Anthony Maldonado, had a lot to say about his first jazz festival performance.


“I was a little nervous in the first song and I missed a couple of notes. I think I got better, overall,” Maldonado said. “About the performance, I love every performance that I do.”


Freshman saxophonist in Jazz 2, Ezekiel Leyva, was not nervous about his first high school jazz festival. Prior to high school, Leyva performed in Stauffer Middle School’s jazz band at other festivals.


“It was a lot of fun. I got to talk to a lot of people, meet a lot of jazz legends, got to connect with a lot of friends, and got to have fun,” Leyva said. “I got to see how many of these people, professionals, performed, what they do. I got to speak to them, take a few pictures.”


Senior vibraphonist, pianist, and drummer in both Jazz 1 and 2, Anai Hernandez, worked long and hard to do her best for the non-competitive performance.


“I’ve been prepping for jazz 1 since the summer… I started taking private lessons, I began practicing a lot more during lunch,” Anai said. “It has made me a much stronger player.”


The jazz bands are preparing for future festivals such as the Western States Jazz Festival on Feb. 29th.